Simons Says...




Thursday, May 26, 2011

It’s been another unforgettable week and here’s hoping that if you are reading this, you are OK after some of the craziest weather I’ve ever seen last weekend. Siren after Siren and all that wacky weather. From our North Minneapolis twister to the devastation in Joplin and other Midwestern cities, our hearts and thoughts go out to the people affected.

There’s no doubt that games (like we are watching now in the NBA playoffs) help us deal with all of havoc. I shimmied up to the old TV set (that’s VERY old school for turning on the HD set) as OKC was thumping Dallas in Game 5. It didn’t last.

I have very much enjoyed the NBA’s second season and as the league’s final-4 plays out for their ticket to the Finals, I’m most impressed with Dallas.

This league has changed in the course of a couple of weeks. Seriously. The playoffs exposed power teams for the next few years in Memphis, OKC, Dallas has again established itself as an elite team. Certainly Miami and Chicago are there just as the Lakers and Celtics have now showed their gray hair and limits.

Emotionally, I’m void when you talk Dallas and OKC. However, I have enjoyed every single game and as much as it pains me (I feel ya’ Seattle) to say it, this Thunder team will be very good for years to come. Unless OKC officials tweek and twist player deals to unravel this group.

You’d have to think that this is a team right on the brink of something special. Once Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant gain some seasoning, experience and poise, OKC has big men, a nice bench and solid coaching, they will become perhaps the most dominant team in the West. James Harden has blossomed in this post season as has Nick Collison.

I hate to admit all of that above. Mention OKC and you won’t find a more disengaged basketball watcher. My loyalties to Seattle weigh too heavily. But it is what it is. That’s a very good team but will team architects allow it to grow or begin rebuilding?

Whatever happens, I’ll only watch and comment and never cheer. On Facebook, friends from all over the NBA have had this topic in the back of their minds while watching the Western Conference Finals. Especially those with Sonics ties. That’s precisely why it’s made me pay attention to this series even more. In fact, a few fans have been watching this blog over the past few weeks and they, in a way, got my back.

Check this e-mail to me at rod@gameontvmn.com, from Chad in Blooomington:

“When you talk about losing your team and holding a grudge (which is exactly what you are doing), I can only relate to our near miss with the Twins. I’ll never forget how baseball nearly moved our Twins. I feel for towns like Sacramento, Seattle and others that lose teams. I don’t blame you. My grudge with MLB regarding the Twins will never go away.”

Chad, thanks. I get it. No Twins fan will EVER be able to forget contraction talk and that really is one of those chapters that grip some fans, regardless of the sport. That’s exactly why a lot of fans can’t cheer for the Thunder.

Facebook fans, those on the left coast and out in the great Northwest have been spittin’ venom over this series. It’s good to see the NBA is staying in Sacramento for at least another season as they work on that stadium situation there. Fans mean a lot to teams. Here, we know this very well. I know from just working with the Wolves on the outside, they deeply care how fans are treated and what they are saying. The Wolves media and social media team interacts with it’s fan base every single day. They LISTEN.

Very soon, this Wolves team will get it turned around and the buzz will be back. On the inside, the Wolves Comm-team will already know what fans are all about. Kinda’ cool how all this stuff runs together, you know?! I’m just sayin’….

On the court, heading into the finals, I’m liking Dirk Nowitzki. Far and above, he’s stood above the pack during the playoffs. His free throw numbers have been staggering in this series for sure. Dirk hit 60 of 62 free throws in the series. Are you kidding me?

Dirk’s 3-ball at 1:14 left in the fourth was the dagger. Congrats on that series and congrats to former Wolves D-Casey and C-Brewer for getting to the finals. 100-96. Impressive.

How do you like me now…:
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery was great. Cleveland gets the top pick and less than one year after the Cavs implode, lose King James and his talents to Miami, fire their head coach and sluggo through the following season, then this.

It has to fall under the headlines “How do you like me now” or “You never know what you got ‘til it’s gone”. But it’s essentially this, the coach who wasn’t good enough to lead the Cavs out of the LBJ era is back. And not just back, he’s landed in the Mecca of magical basketball. Mike Brown might not fit in the rust belt but he’s apparently good enough to replace the legend.

Ouch Cleveland. Mike Brown is the new head coach of the LA Lakers replacing Phil Jackson.

So much is already being said about Brown, defensive minded, a good “basketball mind”, a guy who can handle superstars. So much was said and he was tossed sacks of flack as he was shown the door (after Cleveland was booted from the playoffs last spring). Brown is a class act who has held his head high over the past 12-months. Yes, he made his money and all but the shots Brown took, in the media and under the breath of so many, was difficult.

Good for Coach Brown! Bottom line, it appears that the Lakers know something so many teams did not. There’s a reason the Lakers are one of sports greatest and most successful franchises. To pick Brown as the heir apparent to the Zen Master, it looks like a stroke of genius.

Lynx Love is apparent:
It’s happening. I know it’s the preseason but you can already tell that fans here have noticed what’s up with the Lynx, how that roster is loaded for a serious title run and how much fun winning basketball might be. I’ve mentioned before that Maya Moore is grabbing headlines and that’s very good. Heck, just last week Jordan Brand (a division of NIKE) signed Moore and she is now the first female basketball player to join the Jordan Brand. That’s rare air reserved for the Derek Jeter, D-Wade and Chris Paul’s of the sports world. Great to see the Lynx start the preseason with a full house on hand to watch the L’s beat Indiana. The Lynx/Wolves PR folks tell me that the sellout crowd of 2,055 packed Gangelhoff Center was Minnesota’s first preseason sellout in team history.

Meantime, in her professional debut, number one overall draft pick Maya Moore scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and dished three assists in 22 minutes. Moore is such a competitor. She can score 4 points in her sleep so she had some explaining to do about the last time that happened. The two‐time NCAA Women’s Basketball National Champion and college basketball’s all‐time leader in games won as a player simply told all, "I don't remember. I never plan on having four points, so I don't know necessarily what I'm going to do anything differently besides just continue to listen to the coaching staff and keep being aggressive and taking my time as well. As long as I'm getting good looks… sometimes the ball doesn't go in.”

So start making plans for the home opener June 5 against the LA Sparks. This is going to be a fun summer run and big things are ahead.

By the way, we’re talking NBA and much more on GameON! from Courtside B & G/Anoka. I’m delighted to have Vikings Tackle Phil Loadholt, Wrestling great and Road Warrior Animal Joe Laurinitis, Macalester Baseball, Andover High School baseball team and another shout out to Defending the Blue Line. That’s this Sunday on FOX sister station My29 @ 11A. Come out for a live taping in Anoka and check out our website for updates and taping information. We’d love to have you with us!! Keep your GameON!

AND WATCH FOR:
Thanks for the e-mails and the uptick in communication from you out there. I very much enjoy getting those and next week, we’ll share some more of your FAN thoughts in our SimonsSays mailbag. Until then, keep your chin up and see you Sunday on GameON! I’d love to have you out to one of our live GameON! Tapings this next Tuesday at Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka on Jackson Street. More details and guest listings on our redesigned show website (www.GameOnTvMn.com)